ZZ Top – Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers

The thing about ZZ Top is they never seem to take themselves too seriously. No concept albums or big love ballads… just good old fashion boogie blues rock.

I saw them in 1983 in Nashville. I remember the light show was incredible. I’ve never seen anything like it since. Near the end they made it look as if the stage was shaking and someone fell out of the lighting rig to the stage. Everyone at first thought it was a real person but it was a stuffed dummy.

They sounded great that night and it’s a concert I’ll never forget. The Little Ol’ Band from Texas didn’t disappoint. Who knew at that time they would be be together over 50 years with the same members they started out with.

The death of Dusty Hill had me to pull out Tres Hombres and give it another listen. Compared to other trios like Cream or the Jimi Hendrix Experience…ZZ Top played more in a groove. Dusty wasn’t all over the place on bass but he kept that bottom end grounded for Gibbons guitar to dance around in while Beard was locked with Dusty.

Tres Hombres was released in 1973. The album had four of their best known early songs such as La Grange, Waitin’ For The Bus, Jesus Just Left Chicago, and this one.

The album peaked at #8 in the Billboard 100 in 1973 and #13 in Canada…thanks to Vic (The Hinoeuma Cosmic Observation) for the Canada info.

Billy Gibbons: “On to a gig in Phoenix, we were driving through a West Texas windstorm. We, the band, were waiting to discover a place with some safe ground cover when the late-night lights of a roadside joint appeared. It was just across the line outside El Paso into New Mexico.

We ducked in quick and came face to face with our kind of folks… those soulful souls seeking solace, not only out of the dust and sand, but out of mind. What chance does one get better than that! We joined the gathering and started scribbling.”

From Songfacts

Group composition “Beer Drinkers And Hell Raisers” (with or without the ampersand) is a fun track with the band playing up to their Southern redneck image. Unusually, bass player Dusty Hill supplies the lead vocal, backed up by axeman Gibbons.

It has been suggested that the line, “Baby, don’t you wanna come with me?” means something a little more explicit than, “Would you like to accompany me to the honky-tonk, miss?” If that is indeed the case, then the censor missed it; although it was not released as a single it received considerable airplay, including in the UK, where in 1973 this sort of innuendo would not have been tolerated by the BBC.

The original version runs to 3 minutes 23 seconds, and the song has been covered by both Van Halen and Motörhead, the latter of whom produced a blistering track with some fine and innovative soloing by Fast Eddie Clarke, but as is often the case, the original has not been bettered. 

Here is a live version from 1980. I don’t like posting live versions unless they were done around the time of the release…this is as close as I could find as far as a video of them.

Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers

If you see me walkin’ down the line
with my fav’rite honky tonk in mind,
well, I’ll be here around suppertime
with my can of dinner and a bunch of fine.

Beer drinkers and hell raisers, yeah.
Uh-huh-huh, baby, don’t you wanna come with me?

The crowd gets loud when the band gets right,
steel guitar cryin’ through the night.
Yeah, try’n to cover up the corner fight
but ev’rything’s cool ’cause they’s just tight.

Beer drinkers and hell raisers, yeah.
Huh, baby, don’t you wanna come with me?
Ah, play it boy.

The joint was jumpin’ like a cat on hot tin.
Lord, I thought the floor was gonna give in.
Soundin’ a lot like a House Congressional
’cause we’re experimental and professional.

Beer drinkers, hell raisers, yeah.
Well, baby, don’t you wanna come with me?

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

31 thoughts on “ZZ Top – Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers”

  1. Great track Max. So cool you caught em in 83 right when Eliminator was ruling the sales charts and and ZZ dominating music videos charts as well! I didn’t catch em until 1990 on the Recycler Tour.
    Beer Drinkers…such a great track. Love the rawness of those 70s productions.
    Tres Hombres! RIP Dusty!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I didn’t get into ZZ Top until around 1979 or so, but I’ve been a committed fan ever since! The only album of theirs I ever bought was “Afterburner” which I practically wore out. I just love “Sleeping Bag”, “Stages” and “Rough Boy”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They had a second career in the 80s and changed their sound some. Then in the late nineties the went back to the beginning….so full circle.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. RIP Dusty. Incredible the same trio worked together without changes for over 50 years. I always remember Dusty playing himself in ‘King of the Hill’ -classic! And another good example of them not taking themselves too seriously.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I want to see that bio that Deke said something about and also another blogger named John told me…it’s been in the last couple of years.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post. When Motorhead did a version of this song (1980), it was the first time I had heard of ZZ Top. I bought Tres Hombres not long after that, and listening to that album helped to improve my bass playing by leaps and bounds. RIP Dusty. 🤘

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. Yea I listened to John Entwistle and McCartney for my bass lines and then players like Dusty showed me something…you don’t have to play fast or melodic on every song…just keep the bottom end going.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Welcome, dude. I am nothing if not a bulldog-type researcher. Sorting thru old, scanned versions of RPM Magazine at 3am is right up my alley. Heh.

    I wish I had seen ZZ. I would periodically hear of their concerts in Texas but, I never found anyone that wanted to go with me. God knows, I certainly drove enough times around the Houston area and La Grange, itself, which is due south of Giddings (US 290). If you’ve ever heard of or seen Barnwood Builders, they are in Round Top, in the same area.

    I wonder if ZZ will continue or retire.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do appreciate it…I replaced what I had…”Sorry I could not find the Canada chart position” lol. What? You never saw them? I thought you would have since you lived in Texas…isn’t that a rule there? A Law?
      Right now they are going on with Dusty’s bass guitar tech. Gibbons said that Dusty said to go on with him if anything happened…at least that is what he said.

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      1. I know! Right? My co-workers…I never recall anyone going to a ZZ concert. Maybe some of those Austinites didn’t like them? IDK. Austin is certainly a weird ass place…even more so, now.

        I always meant to get to La Grange but, never had time. 😖😠

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Maybe they were too mainstream for them? Or so attached to Texas? I saw them at a good time…when they were just blowing up again in the 80s.

        Like

      3. The folks I worked with were Willie Nelson & Stevie Ray Vaughn nuts. The crew I ran with, we were the ones chasing AC/DC & Def Leppard & Journey all over the place. Not one co-worker or friend ever mentioned ZZ. One guy I worked with, he was into heavy, heavy metal & cookie monster bands. Really deep, dark shit. He had been a roadie, too. He showed me pix of him, back then, with really long hair. If I recall, correctly, his b-day was late Dec. 1967, right around Christmas, so, he was our age. The rest of my co-workers were 1970 or past that. Maybe ZZ was too rural to them? Too redneck in a city that wanted to be like San Fran? I could speculate all day…🤔🤨

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yea that too redneck in that city could be true…although I don’t believe someone should look at music like that….but yea that could be it.

        Like

      5. Cities like Austin & Dallas and, to some degree, San Antonio, were more cosmopolitan in a way. Galveston, Conroe & The Woodlands, too…high dollar places. Houston might as well be Chicago.

        Texas is a big state with several cultures.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Yea…Tennessee is divided up into 3 sections. East, Middle, and West. Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville…and Nashville and Memphis as a rule…don’t like each other so I know what you mean.

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      7. Heh. That’s similar to NC. The mountain folk call the rest of the state “flat landers & leaf lookers.” The coastal elite “Hoi Toiders” look down their noses at the Piedmont & the Appalachians. Both east & west consider the Piedmont as the power structure that screws things up. I can’t disagree with that.

        We might be “civilized” to a degree but, we remain “tribal.”

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Here is the guy 7 years ago…he grew in the beard and hair lol. He has been with them for a long time.

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      9. Saw it. So, he’s like Dusty’s shadow in a way?

        Changing the subject, Ray & I were out walking and we stopped at our local Tavern. Heard some live music and noticed that the female bass player was playing something that looked a lot like McCartney’s first bass…you know, that small thing?

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Yep his guitar tech…
        I love that bass. I have a copy off brand of it. A Hofner… it’s really light and fun to play.

        Liked by 1 person

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